It is a big week for children across the country as many are packing up their backpacks, saying goodbye to summer, and starting a new school year. This time of year can stir a string of emotions in children, from excitement to anxiousness and everything in between. To help ease the worry for both parent and child, we’ve gathered our top five tips for starting the school year off strong.
1. Starting back school can be an anxiety-provoking time for many children. To help with this, point out the positive aspects of starting school to create positive anticipation about the first day of class with your child. From encouraging exciting thoughts about returning to activities with their friends to attending meet the teacher events, these are small but impactful ways to get your child thinking about the exciting things that await them on the first day.
2. Remember to choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Pack the backpack as light as possible. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10% to 20% of your child’s body weight. Go through the pack with your child weekly, and remove unneeded items to keep it light. Remind your child to always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. Adjust the pack so that the bottom sits at your child’s waist.
3. It is important to talk to your child about bullying at school. Bullying or cyberbullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones. When your child reports that they are being bullied, alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
4. All adults and children over age 12 currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccines should get fully immunized by the start of the school year. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s.
5. Everyone over the age of two should wear face masks that cover the nose and mouth. This is a simple, proven tool to protect students unable to get the vaccine yet or who have chosen not to get it. Students should remain at least three feet apart within classrooms when possible. In general, CDC recommends people who are not fully vaccinated maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from other people who are not in their household.
Information courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics.